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• Sorry about the misspelling.  I did this on my IPhone while in the reading room on the throne.

I know... TMI
December 2020

• Dear Erin, Dan,

I love today’s Deadmen Tales. This adds another layer to the story that Dan told at one of his seminars I attended years ago. A layer that COVID-19 added as we study the Spanish Flu.  What the Dead Men refer to as The Fresh Air Movement

When Dan told the story back then he only briefly alluded to the fact that people left the windows cracked open for fresh air because it was thought that fresh air is healthy air. The story was to indicate how important it is to do a heat loss calculation when sizing a new heating system. Don’t just use the numbers from the old heater.  As I remember that story, it went something like this.

HOW DID THAT BOILER GET SO BIG?

Well, you have to look back to win that house was first fitted with central heat. The heating of the day was probably wood or coal consisting of Franklin stoves and fireplaces throughout the home

When someone was wealthy enough to afford he central heating system they would install a boiler in the basement and ran pipes to the radiators in each room. There were many differed opinions on what was the most scientific way to determine the proper boiler size needed. These were eventually tested and refined into what we call a load calculation today.

Now people were used to a cold home with a warm room near the fireplace or stove that was about 80° or so,  that became the standard for what the indoor temperature should be.

Now 70 or 80 years ago (today it would be 100years) people thought that inside air was not healthy and that outside air was healthy air.  (We now understand this with our current pandemic). So the engineers of the time when the original hand fired boiler was installed accounted for this by adding some capacity for sizing the boiler to heat the home to 80° on the coldest day of the year with the windows open.

The women of the house was in charge of keeping the home fires burning and she became very good add adding just the right amount of coal to the flame to keep the home a comfortable 80°. That is because the man of the house was out working during the week to bring home the money they needed to live. On the weekend however the man of the house might take over the chore of care for the heating system.

It was his job to clear out all the clinkers make sure the flu passages were clear and clean the ash pit to get ready for the upcoming week.  When he was finished with this chore he would then start the new fire using Much more coal then necessary. This was so he did not need to tend to the fire as often. The engineer manuals at the time took this into consideration when deciding on what size heater was necessary for the home. “Once the proper size coal great area is determined, add Half again as much for the husband.”

So now the original boiler is big enough to heat the home on the coldest day of the year to 80° with the windows open and half again much for the husband.

Now that boiler worked fine for many years and then we came to a point in time when all of our able-bodied boys went off to World War II. When the war was over and all of our boys that returned from the war came home, there was a new way to heat your home. Oil heat with the touch of a dial on the wall. This meant there was no more shoveling coal no more cleaning ashes it was almost maintenance free.

Now the oil burner man would come in to your home and remove the greats from the cold heater install a combustion chamber box in the ash pit wired up a few controls and put a thermostat on your wall. But he had to figure out what the firing rate should be so they came up with a design. They would measure the area of the coal great and multiply that by a number to determine the gallons per hour necessary to heat your home. Now if the calculation came out to needing 1.05 Gallons per hour to heat your home and there was no 1.05 gallon per hour nozzle,  the oil heat man would go to the next size higher.  That might be 1.25 GPH. His did not want to make a mistake and go too small.

So now the heater is large enough to heat the house on the coldest day of the year to 80° with the windows open and half again for the husband and now 20% more for the oil burner man

Now that old cold conversion heater worked fine for 20 or so years but now that it’s getting old the oil burner man says that it’s time to install a new heater. The oil burner me and wants to keep you as a customer so he installs a brand new packaged oil boiler.  And to determine the size of the new package oil boiler they look at the firing rate of the oil burner they’re removing. That’s 1.25 gallons per hour but the new boiler does not have a 1.25 GPH model.  They have a 1.50 GPH Model and they have a 1.20 GPH Model.  Not wanting to go to small the oil burner company decides that the 1.5 GPH Model is the right one for the old house

So now the heater is large enough to heat the house on the coldest day of the year to 80° with the windows open and half again for the husband and now 20% more for the oil burner man and another 20% for the modern package boiler

Another 20 years goes by and that package boiler has had a few repairs recently and the natural gas company just put a new gas main in front of your house. Their new gas heater sounds like a good idea. So a plumber comes in and gives you a price on a new heater, but how did he figure out what size you need?  The easy way is to look at the rating plate of the existing oil heater. 210,000 BTU Input. But the new heater that I sell doesn’t come in that size. They have a 200,000 BTU and they have a 240,000 BTU. Now I don’t wanna make a mistake and put something in that is too small, so you get the 240,000 BTU.

So now the heater is large enough to heat the house on the coldest day of the year to 80° with the windows open and half again for the husband and now 20% more for the oil burner man and another 20% for the modern package boiler and an additional 15% for the gas heater.

Now it’s 20 to 30 years later.  The old house is still standing and the foundation has been upgraded and sealed, there are new windows, the walks have blown in insulation,  there is 26” of installation in the attic and it’s time for you to put in a new boiler.   how are you going to size the replacement boiler?    Even harder... How are you going to convince the homeowner that this tiny little box is going to keep them warm this winter?

Just ask them if they want a heater that is large enough to heat the house on the coldest day of the year, with no insulation, with old windows, to 80° with the windows open and half again for the husband and 20% more for the oil burner man and another 20% for the modern package boiler and 15% more for the gas man?

Or do they want the right size the will save them money?

I might have a detail or two wrong but the story I remember was a good one and I have told it to many of the classes I have taught over the last 15 Years or so.  Always giving Dan Holohan due credit

Thanks for all you do Dan & Erin.  And thanks for giving all of us a place to share our combined experiences to help those that need our knowledge and experience

Edtheheaterman

From Cape May County,NJ

Retired in Charleston, SC

December 2020

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